BOSTON -- It was the night of the home run on Friday at Fenway Park in the Indians’ series opener against the Red Sox. Between Cleveland and Boston, the two teams tallied six homers on the night.
Three of the five runs charged to Quantrill came on solo home runs: one on a leadoff knock courtesy of Kyle Schwarber to open the game, a second-inning shot from Kevin Plawecki and the third coming in the fourth inning from Jonathan Araúz.
“I thought he threw the ball pretty good,” Cleveland acting manager DeMarlo Hale said. “Him and [catcher Austin] Hedges were on the same page again. I think the first home run was a slider or curveball -- I think it was a curveball that didn’t do much. But yeah, they came out swinging a little bit. And the No. 9 hitter [Araúz] got him on that fastball that was up a little bit. Probably a couple of pitches that I would say were mislocated, where he didn’t want to be. And basically [Araúz] made a good swing and [Quantrill] paid for it.”
Quantrill entered the night fresh off a productive August, during which he went 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA (six earned runs over 38 innings) and 40 strikeouts across six starts. His ERA marked the lowest in the American League during August, and the third-lowest within the Majors. The three home runs Quantrill surrendered on Friday night were more than he allowed in the entire month of August (two), and the most he’s given up in a single game in his Major League career.
It wasn’t exactly the start Quantrill hoped would follow such an impressive month, but there were bright spots behind the dark cloud of home runs: specifically, his ability to get out of jams. After serving up back-to-back one-out singles in the third, Quantrill walked Alex Verdugo to load the bases. Following a mound visit, he got Hunter Renfroe swinging before Plawecki grounded out to end the inning. Two frames later, Quantrill retired the heart of Boston’s order with strikeouts of Rafael Devers and Verdugo around a groundout by J.D. Martinez.
Quantrill entered the seventh inning having retired the last seven batters he faced, but he immediately ran into trouble with a leadoff walk followed by an Araúz double. Both runners scored after Quantrill exited, when reliever Trevor Stephan gave up an RBI double to Schwarber.
“For the most part I thought he was pretty good,” Hale said. “Tried to go a bit deeper with him on the bottom of the order there, the walk to the pinch-hitter [Travis Shaw]. Still thought he had a chance to get the No. 9 hitter there with his changeup and his pitch repertoire to get a ground ball. But, you know, he got one of the wall balls there, ball a little bit up. So it kind of got away from us a little bit in that inning with the five runs.”
Quantrill is no stranger to Boston’s lineup, having faced the Red Sox in his last start on Aug. 28. In that meeting -- the second of a three-game series -- Quantrill went seven innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits with six strikeouts. The right-hander didn’t feel the need to change his game plan ahead of Friday’s start, especially since Boston’s lineup has gone through a shake-up in the days since its last meeting with Cleveland, due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
“No, I felt good. I didn’t think we had to mix it up at all,” Quantrill said. “I think generally speaking, as long as you execute pitches there’s really no way to go away from the game plan except for a special hitter or two. I thought that, for the most part, we did execute well today. But, you know, a couple bad pitches and then a walk in the seventh was kind of all she wrote.”
Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi cruised through the first six innings, with his only blemish being a José Ramírez solo homer in the fourth that snapped an 0-for-12 skid for the third baseman. Like Quantrill, Eovaldi ran into trouble in the seventh, as Bobby Bradley notched a one-out single that set up Austin Hedges for the game-tying two-run shot over the Green Monster.
“Yeah, that’s a big hit by Hedgey there,” Quantrill said. “It’s too bad that we [couldn't] finish it off, but I thought we showed good resiliency today. Yeah, we put up quality at-bats all the way through, including the ninth inning there.”